Botany: ‘Vicia Sativa’ from Rutali

operation di Rutali Vicia SativaBelonging to the Fabaceae family, and also considered a weed; otherwise known as ‘the common vetch’. Height goes from 15-70cm, with a flexible stem, high-necked and hairy.

The flower is a purple-red, irregular Corolla; 10-30mm in length. There are five petals: one is raised like a flag, the two side ones like wings, and the two lower ones somewhat like a hull. The general structure of the Corolla, reminds us of a butterfly. The calyx has five lobes. Ten stamens, with filaments at the base stuck together. There’s just a unique carpel. Inflorescence: raceme without stem, 1-2 flowers.

The leaves are expressed in series, with short sessile petioles, and the stipules have serrated edges and black marks.

The fruit is composed of a 25-70mm pod, hairy-hairless, brown/yellow to black, and sometimes sealed off between the seeds.

Habitat: Fields, fallow land, wasteland, riverbanks, roadsides, parks, meadows, ports, rail yards. Also grows amidst plants used as fodder and green manure crops. Flowering is from June-August.
The genus name ‘vetch’ has been associated with Vicia for a very long time. It was used for the first time by the Roman Marcus Varro in his agricultural tract, apparently in reference to the vetch. The name is based on the Latin verb vincere, “twist”, which refers to a sort of tendril that twists around the leaves and helps the plant to climb above the surrounding vegetation. Common vetch was brought to Finland as a forage crop for winter livestock, and the species then being distributed naturally through the uncultivated lands and the courtyards around the threshing mills.                                                                                                                                              operation di Rutali VS (bis)

As with many ancient cultivated plants, it is difficult to pinpoint the origin of the common vetch, but it was probably found in the Mediterranean countries. The vetch spread with the help of animals and men too; the hard-shelled seeds survive the passage through the digestive tract and can spread over long distances. The common vetch also has an ally amongst the smallest members of the fauna. Near vision reveals that stipules have small black marks; they are nectar glands that attract ants to the plant with the sweet fluid they emit. Ants defend the plant against pests and even against larger predators and are rewarded with nectar.

Source: Association Opera di Rutali Copyright ©

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